Green Sage Cafe

Randy Talley



Photo by Lynne Harty

What is your favorite part of being a restaurant owner?

My favorite part of being a restaurant owner is working with our culinary team to develop new categories and products.  Jason Sellers, owner of and chef at Plant is our new R&D chef for plant-based soups, salads and entree bowls.  His soups are fantastic and selling incredibly well.  Rose Hardesty is our Lead Baker and developing new gluten free pastries that are every bit as good as the wheat-based items that we have been making for the last 10 years. Her new chocolate chip scone is divine.  Arrow Grey is our Juicery Manager.  He is concocting organic cold-pressed juices and nut milks that we will launch in our new store. We are currently beta-testing the new juices now at our Westgate location.

What is the background of your restaurant’s name?

Green Sage is a coined word created to reflect the “green consciousness” of the Asheville community.  We have always been committed to environmentally sustainable practices including the use of renewable energy, composting and purchasing local, organic and chemical free ingredients.  We were the first restaurant in downtown Asheville to install solar panels and led the AIR restaurant community to win a NC green energy grant that saved about 3.5 billion BTU’s of energy annually.  18 restaurants joined forces to earn green certifications from the Green Restaurant Association.  Asheville was declared “America’s First Green Dining Destination”.

What ingredient could you not live without?

As a plant-based eater, I have learned to live without wheat, milk and meat. I am health-conscious and an avid tennis player and stopped eating these ingredients to eliminate inflammation and pain in my body.  It worked. The ingredient that I could not live without–green tea!  I also eliminated coffee from my diet, but still desire a little healthy caffeine in the morning.  Green tea hits the spot.

What is your favorite dish on the menu?

Soup has always been one of my favorite foods. Currently my favorite items on the menu are our new soups, created by Jason Sellers.  I eat a bowl of one of his soups almost every day.  My two favorites are Creamy Carrot Ginger and Red Lentil Sambar.  

What is your favorite dish from a fellow AIR Restaurant’s menu?

I eat at Plant about once/week.  Currently my favorite item on their menu is the Green Curry with togarashi tofu, bok choy & red pepper, sesame cabbage, pickled shiitake green chile rice, ramp roasted peanut, and cucumber. I also enjoy their deserts and routinely get the homemade vegan Ice Cream Taster.

Why did you choose Asheville to open your restaurant?

My partner, Roger Derrough and I are former owner/operators of Earth Fare.  Roger founded EF in 1975.  I opened Green Sage in 2008 because I saw the need for health conscious customers to have a place of their own; a cafe that served high quality pure food in a casual setting–without grocery carts.  I planned to open 4-5 locations and eventually grow the concept beyond Asheville. We will open our 4th location at 633 Merrimon, in the old Atlanta Bread, sometime after Thanksgiving this year.

What is your favorite chef’s took and why?

My favorite new chef’s tool is actually a machine.  Green Sage is in the process of creating a new Juicery division that will be housed in the new Merrimon Ave. store.  We recently purchased an hydraulic cold-pressed juice machine that will be used to make raw organic juices and nut milks for all four of our locations.  Similar to an old-fashioned cider press, this machine can grate and press just about any fruit or vegetable into pure, raw, colorful, delicious and nutrient dense liquid beverages.  Our new juice press also yields 30% more juice than our old centrifugal juices and will eliminate the laborious process of making juices one at a time.  I love this machine and I think everyone will love our new cold-pressed juices  including our Spice-C-OJ, made with organic orange, grapefruit, lemon, lime, red bell pepper and cayenne.  It’s the most delicious way to drink a super-healthy dose of vitamin C!